September 30, 2011

wholesomeoptions

Wholesome Options
http://wholesomeoptions.blogspot.com/
Health blog by Varsha Tiwary



Wholesome Options is about making wise, smart choices in Nutrition and Fitness.

It questions the humbug, dogma and marketing spiels in Nutrition : from Low Fat Diets to Heart Healthy Oils and Sugar Free Biscuits.
It promotes a love for Movement for its own sake-not to attain a mythical size zero or six pack abs.

Wholesome unabashedly loves real, unprocessed foods and heart thumping, muscle tautening Functional Exercises that have a carry over in Real World activities rather than populating Gyms with pretty shiny machines.
Wholesome helps People love moving and eating well for its own sake instead of doing these things from a sense of duty, guilt or self-deprivation.

September 29, 2011

Anna Hazare embraces blogging!

Let the Indian blogosphere welcome the blog of Anna Hazare.

'Anna Hazare Says' is the twin blog in Wordpress [ update: no longer available] and Blogspot platforms that has just started. In Hindi, English and Marathi, the blog is still under construction.

We had earlier put a post on Anna Hazare. When we posted that one, there were 1.8 million blogs that had talked about Anna. Nice to find Anna in the Indian blogging world.

Is the blog a feather in his cap or is it the other way round?

September 28, 2011

Indian Blog Directory updation in November

We are planning to have a thorough updation of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs in the coming weeks and publish the updated directory by the middle of November.
We will post details of the selection procedure sometime later. Right now, please note the following:
  • The closing date for including blogs for examination will be 15th October 2011.
  • Selection of blogs will start de novo. That is, a blog’s being there in the present directory or blog ranks will have no relevance to selection except that the blogs will automatically be examined.
  • Nominations received for blog review and blog showcase will also automatically be considered for the directory.
  • We are conscious that despite our survey of the Indian blogosphere in the last one year and current efforts, we would be able to check only about 20,000 blogs in all out of a few million Indian blogs.  We’d welcome suggestions for inclusion of good blogs in the directory, till 15th October. Do email us at: kp.nd.2008@gmail.com
  • Blogs with inappropriate content will be rejected outright.
  • Blogs, however good, will be rejected if they do not have at least one post published in each of these 3 months preceding the closing date: July, August and September 2011.
  • We do not intend to artificially put a ceiling on the number of blogs that are to be included in the directory. Yet, the competition will be tougher this time than in July. Blogs in the directory whose quality or regularity has suffered badly since July are likely to be dropped.

September 25, 2011

woodooz



Arts, crafts, woodworking blog by Preethi & Somu

Woodooz is about being self-reliant and unearthing the simple things around the house that we can do ourselves - be it fixing a cabinet door, decoupaging a bottle or hanging a painting.

Through Woodooz, we intend to chronicle our learnings on woodworking that can help one be one's own handiman. Woodooz is a hobby that has burgeoned into custom making furniture, lamp shades, clocks, paintings and more for friends and family. We believe in adding personal touch to home decor through DIY on arts,crafts and woodworking and Woodooz remains to be a platform to showcase our projects.

bigtamasha



Big Tamasha
http://www.bigtamasha.com/ [update: no longer available]

News & current affairs blog by Harbhajan Singh

Life has become one big tamasha. And here is your daily dose of the same. 

All named and photoed characters are real, words attributed to them partially unreal but just to make the satire. 

No harm is intended to anybody. Apologies in advance.

September 20, 2011

Is my site a proper website or a blog?

'Blogs' are a sub-set of 'websites'

Blogs and traditional websites are
subsets of the web world
Websites have been in existence since the advent of the World Wide Web, and blogs came much later. The early blogs were true to their literary meaning – web log or web diary – but slowly they turned into full-fledged websites. Over time, the difference between a website and a blog has blurred to the extent that they look the same. The saying that was popular once – that a website is static while a blog is updated - does not hold good anymore.

Technically speaking, blogs are a subset of web spaces or websites. In this assumption, all blogs are websites but not all websites are blogs. Loosely speaking, you can call a website with blogging features as a blog and a blog with lots of other content than posts as a website.

Both blogs and other websites have a homepage and a number of other pages. Site designing these days does not require writing each line of code, and a large number of ready-made templates and what-you-see-is-what-you-get [WYSIWYG] programs are available to create any type of website with numerous features. External codes in the form of widgets / gadgets are available that can be fitted into almost any design. Blogging platforms give this functionality through their ‘design’ option. So, the end result of designing whether doing it through Wordpress / Blogger or ab initio in a web-designing software might look the same.


However, big sites / portals, business sites and sites needing online transactions have structures that blogs cannot [and need not] have.

Blogs have some distinctive features that websites, especially those maintaining old characteristics of websites, do not possess. If your site has the following features, it is more likely a blog:
Not necessarily, but generally, if a site URL shows that it is part of a blogging platform [e.g. example.blogspot.com], it is a blog. But a blog need not have such an identity [e.g. http://www.indiantopblogs.com]

If a site is maintained in the form of a diary in which posts are written periodically and are arranged reverse-chronologically, it is a blog. If a site allows commenting on posts, it is further into the blog mold.

If a site has widgets for current content, aggregation / grouping of content and interaction, it shifts towards being a blog.

If there is a main site with a sub-site that is called blog, it must be maintained as a blog that has the inherent quality of log-keeping, updating and interaction.

On the other hand if a site, even on Blogger / Wordpress platform, is maintained with lots of information but not in the form of periodically published ‘posts’ and not allowing interaction, it is a site not fit to be called a blog.

Is a blog less prestigious than a website?


Since most blogs are of personal nature and not always serious about their brand, people may take a blog and its owner less seriously. Another reason for people not taking blogger as seriously as a site-owner could be that most blogs are maintained free on blogging platforms while you need to pay hosting charges, etc to maintain independent sites.

Because of this, sites / blogs with names containing blogspot / wordpress / livejournal and other blogging ‘surnames’ score poorly as compared to sites and blogs with independent URLs. Blogs [or sites devoid of blogging features] with names of blogging platforms are said to be taken less seriously by search engines too! [In totality, however, blogs tend to get more search friendly because of their regular updating, comments etc.]

But some website owners prefer to call their websites as blogs, as it invites interaction and tells that the site will keep regularly updating the matter. In fact some of the most influential websites today are either true blogs (e.g. Huffington Post, ViperChill) or are updated like blogs (many sites of newspapers, magazines and television channels)!

The last point

If you are a non-corporate blogger, you can do whatever a simple website can do and much more. Just keep it in the best form [You can find a number of tips on Indian Top Blogs]. 

Do not pay huge sums just to have your website that needs technical knowledge for its maintenance and upgradation; use Blogger or Wordpress – the best available blogging platforms.

If you are in business, it is advisable [at present] to have a full-fledged website and a complementary blog and/or a social media page [e.g. Facebook]. Studies have found that websites with blog sections drive more page indexing on search engines, links and traffic.

You might also like to visit this post: How to have a Blogger blog that looks like a static website?

September 15, 2011

Blog showcase: a quick follow up

The response to our call for entries for blog showcase has been tremendous. Within about 36 hours of publishing the previous post, we have received 8 nominations. We wanted to clarify some points in view of the likely big response, so this post.

It appears that we will not be able to accommodate even one-tenth of the nominations that we receive, so we have thought of the following mechanism to choose the 'first among equals'.

We thought of limiting the showcase to Indian blogs only but we realise that it doesn't serve much purpose. We are also not in a position to shortlist blogs for quality beyond what is described below.
  • The blog must meet a minimum standard in content, regularity and design. In content, subject matter and blogger's effort would score over grammatical refinement. There should be no objectionable content on the blog.
  • The nomination should be in the exact format provided in the previous post.
  • The description should be compelling. Allow us to re-emphasise that a good blog with a poor description in the showcase does not do justice to the blog, and so you should give your best in the description of the blog. Though we'd not like to reject nominations only on the basis of  description, nominations with a very poorly written description are liable to be rejected. [We are open to modifications in the description and re-submission of the same blog, if the revised submission is as per guidelines given in the previous post.]
  • We won't further shortlist nominations available in the basket based on merit, popularity or any other criterion. We'd just pick one blog randomly.  We'd carry forward all earlier nominations.

We'd welcome suggestions for a more transparent, yet good system of shortlisting blogs for display on ITB. Should we shortlist blogs based on their Google PR / Alexa ranking? Should it be on popularity, based in turn on comments? Should we list the nominations on Indian Top Blogs and invite readers' votes? We are averse to shortlisting blogs based on popularity, but we would also like to be as transparent as possible. What do you say?

Please read this post in continuation of the guidelines for blog showcase.

September 14, 2011

Your blog is so good; why not showcase it on ITB?

Indian Top Blogs has a window to feature quality blogs, called 'blog showcase'. Anybody can submit his / her blog for showcasing on ITB.


The process


- We feature two-three blogs a month on the ITB website.
- The featured blogs are available in ITB archives and are accessible through the 'blog showcase' tab in the navigation bar on the ITB site.

Need I apply for being featured, and how?


You need to apply by sending an email to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com in the following manner:
in the subject of the email, write: blog showcase
in the body of the email, write exactly as stated below:
 - first line: the URL of the blog [e.g. http://www.indiantopblogs.com]

 - next line: title of the blog in no more than 30 characters. Whether you call it 'Teenu's Blog' or 'Where sky meets the nephros' is up to you. It will help if you identify the blogger and / or the purpose of the blog.
 - next line: describe the best features of the blog in no more than 750 characters [100 words]. It has to be the best description that you can think for your blog, without self-praise. For example, if you feel that you need to highlight the design aspect, do that. If you feel, your blog is helping poor children get helping hands, tell that.

This is how the blog showcase would appear on ITB.
What is that I get by showcasing your blog on ITB site?

- You get featured in a site that is gaining popularity and reputation for genuine rankings and reviews and blogging advice. It adds to your blog's reputation.
- You get a backlink to your blog from ITB. It means more popularity, greater authority and - as ITB grows - more and more Google PR value as your blog gets a 'dofollow' link.
- As your post will be linked to your blog, visitors to the showcase post as well as the list of showcased blogs are likely to visit your blog.
- Your blog gets a mention on our Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social accounts. When we go to other social media sites, we'll carry your blog there too. We admit that we are not very active on social networks, but we are there nevertheless.
- You get a URL of your own. [We'll give the 'showcase' featuring your blog a page name with ITB + your blog's URL.] You can put it anywhere on your blog or elsewhere - and it will show only your blog's showcase.
- We put a thumbnail of your blog's homepage, as shown above. Visitors can see a glimpse of your blog in the 'showcase' itself. We also highlight one or more of your best features.
- You benefit immensely by this exercise as you discover the best things in and potential of your blog. It gives you an opportunity to write an excellent 'pitch' for your blog that you can use on other social media sites, bottom of your email, etc. The odds are that you will feel happy after the exercise.
- When visitors comment on your 'showcase', you get those many opinions on your blog.

How does it score over peer review? I get great reviews from competition sites.

- Award and recognition sites on the web depend either on popularity or votes given by other bloggers. Bloggers entering competitions need to promote their entries, and mostly the ones with good networking win over others. Yes, such rankings do serve a purpose, but in our view ranking / review by a totally unbiased agency with no monetary  interest or lure of reciprocity in promoting a particular blog works the best. 
- In our email interactions with some bloggers whose blogs we reviewed in detail, we found that most of the times, bloggers do not know the intrinsic qualities of their blogs even when they feel they are the best blogger in their group. This exercise would give you an opportunity to think of the best in your blog.
- In any case, the showcase also tells that you meet a minimum standard in terms of content, design and regularity.


How can I be sure to be showcased? Can I apply again?

We have been overwhelmed by requests for showcase, so delay in showcasing a blog is inevitable. If you have applied once, you don't have to apply again if you have followed the submission guidelines given above. If you want to modify the  description of the blog subsequent to a submission [but before showcasing], write in the subject line: blog showcase: modification request. 
You can send an email to us if your blog is not showcased even after six months. Before sending the email, just be sure that you'd followed the  guidelines while sending the submission.


There is a follow up post on blog showcase here.
Do click here for guidelines for blog review and directory submissions.


September 10, 2011

Pictures can make or mar a blog: III - images inside the blog

This is the last post in a three-part series on use of images in blogs. The first post dealt with technical aspects of imaging and the second one was on image properties and editing for blogging purposes. The present one deals with various aspects relating to pictures inside the blog.

10. Purpose of picture elements in blogs

Images and other visual elements are used in blogs in these major ways:

1. Photographs, other graphics and videos are put in posts to supplement text. In photo-blogs or posts in the form of photo-features, images are the dominant content and text is used to supplement it. 

2. Images are used to enhance overall blog appearance: template; background; title background; icons, titles, blogger’s portrait and badge; pictorial headers and footers; animations; flash introductions and navigation schemes; favicon; etc.

3. Images also land up in blogs when they are part of external code: widgets and photo-widgets; honours and awards; linked photos; etc. 

4. Besides images and videos, colours and patterns are used variously in blogs to create visual variety.

11. Relevance of the image

blog-template
nice template, but is
the text easy to read?
One of the foremost things to be kept in mind is whether an image will add value or reduce it. Is the image relevant? Does it not reduce readability? Does it match the overall colour scheme of the blog? Does it go with the overall personality of the blog? 

The question of relevance is especially important for images in the blog’s title bar and background. The image in the title area can increase the appeal and overall value of the blog many times. The image in the background gives a sense of continuity by weaving together various elements, and complements the personality / mood of the blog. 

colors-for-blog-templates
colourful template, but does it
suit IndianTopBlogs?
You will find on the web very fancy templates that cover the title area and block background. Some of them are really very imaginative. Some websites and blogs have impressive graphics that seem to add great value to the website / blog. However, before applying them to your blog, test them on the parameters we have mentioned in this post. Please keep two more points in mind: (i) Only because an image or a template looks great on someone’s blog does not mean it would look as good on yours. (ii) Your own images and designs give the uniqueness to your blog that generic images and templates cannot.

blog-templates
snapshot of 4 templates
suitable for different types of blogs

September 5, 2011

Pictures can make or mar a blog: II - image attributes, editing

This post is second in the three-part series on use of images in blogs. The first post dealt with some technical aspects of imaging. The present one deals with major attributes of pictures and simple image editing. The next one is on matters relating to images inside a blog.

5.  Image attributes 

London-wheel-on-blog
London Wheel:
good contrast
Image quality depends on dozens of factors. We’ll talk here of some important attributes of quality of an image. 

 1. Brightness. In dark images, shadows and poorly-lit areas look too dark while in too bright images, bright objects lose details and turn white. Manually increasing brightness in an image makes it look whitewashed unless some other attributes are adjusted.

2. Contrast. In images with proper contrast, you can distinctly make out one object from the other and see details. but in an image with poor contrast, objects and their details mix up. Photos taken in low light, say at dusk, tend to have low contrast.
London Wheel
in poor contrast

3. Resolution. In digital imaging, resolution refers to the size of the image in pixels. Thus a 10 MP [=megapixel] photo will have around 10 million pixels. If the length x breadth ratio of the photo is 4:3, the 10 MP picture would be around 3400 pixels wide and 2600 pixels in height. Since blog images are generally for viewing on screen and not for printing, images in high resolution don’t add to the visual quality but make the blog slow.  


Photos-on-blogs
Vibrant colours, details, contrast
4. Hue. It refers to the underlying colour of the image. If a photo is not ‘colour balanced’, it will have a tinge that seems to spread over objects whether they are of that colour or not. Photos taken at night using ordinary digital cameras often have yellow-orange hue.

Poor saturation:
grey-shaded, dull colours
5. Saturation. High saturation means you will see bright colours as in daylight. A fully un-saturated image is gray-black. Under-exposed photos tend to be un-saturated.

6. Photography and blog images

This post cannot even try to teach basics of photography, but we must say just as a reminder that if you intend to put photographs taken by you in your blog, take care in properly shooting the photo rather than shooting arbitrarily and thinking that you would improve the photo later on. Point-and-shoot digital cameras give you the leeway to shoot as many photos as you can and without much regard to adjustment of various values, but it does not mean that you should not take care of basics of photography. In all cases, you should keep these very basics in mind: